An Ideal Place to Live and Age

The homeless women I met with this morning talked about harmful spaces they no longer want to be a part of; and their struggles to occupy the anything-but spaces. They were floating — inhabiting temporary spaces, experiencing disconnect, and dreaming of settling. They glorified their stories in terms of “lives of travel.”

They highlighted for me how place, at any age, makes such a difference. Most of us take” home” for granted. And most of the people I know are so bonded to the places they call home that they never want to leave.

As more people age at home (many without family nearby), local networks and resources seem more crucial than ever. And it seems as if more and more communities are coming together to anticipate this, and to envision sustainable, empowering spaces.

My neighborhood is holding a meeting today about  creating a community that prevents homelessness, abuse, school drop outs, and injuries from falling. We’re talking about a community that cares about people across the lifecourse — children, teens, adults, and seniors. The conversation will about building social fabric as well as supportive infrastructure (e.g. so that streets have sidewalks, and sidewalks have cutouts for stroller and walkers). I see the conversation as a beginning in confronting social problems that affect us all.

This conversation makes me appreciate what I have — neighbors who reach out to one another and a location where much of what I need is within walking distance.  It also makes me think, 25-50 years from now, how might my ideal place to live and age look different? What would it look like for both my home and my community to respond to my most pressing needs, as well as the needs of others?

Does anyone want to share stories about choosing, creating, and/or designing communities and/or living spaces that fit with your needs and ideals?

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1 Response to “An Ideal Place to Live and Age”


  1. 1 KML February 25, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    JUST AN IDEA

    After 50+ years of caring for her home — 20 years as a very independent widow — my mom wanted less time devoted to home maintenance. It was a decision like all of my mother’s decisions, made with heavy thought and prayer. She had started researching options such as regional townhouse communities, but I never witnessed any enthusiasm over that choice.

    After observing the stress of a recent maintenance issue, my sister made the suggestion to combine households. The idea of finding a new space that would meet the needs of a continually expanding and contracting family seemed right. The house would serve as “The Center House” for extended family gatherings, impromptu meetings as well as provide an open door policy for
    the occasional seniors BUNKO! night. A casual search began and The Center House was found, or as they like to say, it found them. Quite quickly in fact.

    Nothing about the home really fits society’s idea of an appropriate living space for a senior 77 years in age. It is located far up on a hillside. Parking in the driveway requires maneuvers that only trained special forces are equipped to handle. Her bedroom suite is located up a flight of stairs.
    Her office, along with the laundry room, is located down 2 flights from that suite. And yet, it still felt right to her.

    Her approach to the challenges of the new terrain? Buy an all wheel drive vehicle and conquer the hills. The parking? Practice, practice, practice.

    Indeed this is a family experiment still in it’s infancy and there will certainly be obstacles along the way. However, the enthusiasm in my mom’s voice when she speaks about the views, the bedroom suite that she wouldn’t change one bit, and the activity of the household is all the convincing that this daughter needs.

    Goodbye flats!


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Meika Loe

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